1st Indian in space.
1st Indian woman to climb Mt. Everest.
1st Indian to not bring home cooked food for a train journey.
Great people, all of them. Each belonging to that curious breed which would rather take the road less travelled than be average. Today, we have a new entrant to this club. He is the indomitable Satnam Singh, standing at 7’2, and the son of a farmer. However, there is one more title that he deserves to be known by from now onwards. He has achieved the great distinction of the first Indian born basketball player to be picked in the NBA draft.
The Dallas Mavericks drafted the young gun, and in the process, just might have won quite a few supporters for their team. “We certainly created a legend”, owner Mark Cuban said, “There are a billion new Mavs fans out there right now.” It certainly seems to be the case. Social media has been abuzz with this new development, and proud Indians are waxing eloquent at how the whole scenario bodes well for Indian basketball. Perhaps he could do for India what Yao Ming did to China.
Satnam Singh wasn’t your average Indian kid. Even at a young age, he towered over his friends. Even his father was pretty tall, and Satnam has his especially useful gene pool to thank for his height. Of course, I personally suspect it’s the Desi Ghee. Don’t let science tell you otherwise.
He is all of 19 years old. While most people are done with their boards, this guy is going to be around boards for a long while now. 3 years ago, he came to America. He hated the food. He hated the weather. He missed his parents. Now, he is the lone torchbearer of Indian basketball in the NBA.
Of course, it’s still too early for him to straightaway in the league. He is expected to spend some time in the Developmental League, working on his skill set, and aiming to grow as a player. However, he has the support of a whole nation behind him. It is expected that he will touch greater heights in the near future, pardon the pun.
In a country plagued by a complete disregard for any sport which doesn’t start with a ‘C’ and ends with a ‘T’, this news is like the light at the end of the tunnel. India is changing. No one merely sticks to the norm anymore. Basketball is a niche sport, in India. However, the small band of Indian basketballers are among the most devoted. They love the game like anything, in spite of it not suiting the populist agenda.
He might have been the 52nd Pick at the draft, but India has already picked their 1st Pick. Satnam Singh has a massive responsibility on his shoulders. Not only is he playing for his own sake, but also for the thousands of Indian basketball fans and players toiling away in India, with no promises of glory or gold, and only the love of this amazing game to keep them going.
Satnam Singh’s selection has heralded a new era for Indian basketball. It is time for the basketball community to step up and show our support. This just might be the spark which ignites the fire of this hugely talented nation of ours.
Till then, Jai Hind.